Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (Amazon,) author Steven Johnson lays out a big-picture of how ideas are formed and how to setup an environment that fosters innovation.

Readers in a hurry can stick to the last chapter of the book. That’s pretty much where the meat of the book is.


  • It is important to just get started solving a problem. And do it publicly if possible. You may not solve the problem you set out initially but along the way, you will find a solution to something else entirely.
  • Error often creates a path that leads you out of your comfortable assumptions. Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore. Some of the most important innovations in history have taken a long, messy torturous path.
  • Markets allow good ideas to erupt anywhere in the system. The decentralized pricing mechanism of the marketplace allows an entrepreneur to gauge the relative value of his or her innovation. If you come up with an interesting new contraption, you don’t need to persuade a government commission of its value. You just need to get someone to buy it.

Recommendation: Worth flipping through.

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